By Faye Martins and Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
What can students gain from Yoga Nidra practice? Just as the original teachings of Yogic philosophy have been diluted over the years, Yoga Nidra has gone through changes. Sometimes, known as “Yogic Sleep,” yet, Yoga Nidra is a term used to define almost any Yoga-related relaxation technique. The original practice, however, goes far deeper and involves four levels of consciousness. Although Yoga Nidra is a popular calm and blissful practice, it has ancient roots. Indeed, it is also believed to be the method used by ancient Yoga teachers for purification and exploration of karmic patterns.
What are the first three levels of consciousness?
There are four levels of consciousness: waking, dreaming, sleep, and being (turiya). In Yoga Nidra practice, the first three levels of consciousness are experienced in succession, with each level becoming increasingly deeper and more restful. The first level of consciousness is waking. This is the most superficial level of consciousness, and it is characterized by a sense of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings. The second level of consciousness is dreaming. The second level is deeper than waking, and it is characterized by a sense of a dreamlike state. The third level of consciousness is sleep. This is the deepest of the first three levels of consciousness, and it is characterized by a sense of complete stillness and peace.
The waking state is conscious and relates to the gross body or those things that are experienced by the five senses. The first stage of Yoga Nidra practice is also called the body scan. You start by lying down in a comfortable position and focusing on your breath. Once you have settled into your breath, you begin to scan your body from head to toe, noticing any areas of tension or relaxation. You then focus your attention on a particular body part, such as the heart or stomach, and breathe into that area. The goal of the body scan is to become aware of the mind-body connection and to release any physical or mental tension.
The dream state is unconscious and relates to the energy fields of the subtle, or astral, body. The astral body connects the gross body with the causal body. The second stage of Yoga Nidra is also known as the “sleep of the senses.” In this stage, you will focus on letting go of all external stimulation and focusing inward. This can be done by closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. You may also want to focus on a mantra or affirmation to help you keep your mind from wandering. In this stage, you are still aware of your surroundings, but your mind is more focused on your breath and your body relaxes. You may experience a sense of calm and peace in this stage.
The sleep state is subconscious and relates to the causal body – the state where realities can be changed and karma (action) is stored. The third stage of Yoga Nidra is also known as the “transcendental state.” This is when you reach a state of deep relaxation where your mind is completely free from all thoughts. You may experience a sense of bliss or peace during this stage. You may also feel like you are floating or weightless. This stage is also considered to be the most beneficial for your health and well-being. In this stage, you allow your body to completely relax and your mind to enter a state of complete rest. You may even fall asleep during this stage. However, if you do fall asleep, you will still receive some of the benefits of the practice.
What About The Fourth State?
The three stages mentioned above are followed by a state of pure consciousness (turiya). Indeed, Turiya is the fourth state of consciousness, beyond the waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states. It is a state of pure awareness, in which the mind is totally still and silent. In this state, you are aware of your own true nature as pure consciousness. You are also aware of the absolute reality that underlies all of creation. Turiya is often referred to as a state of being, pure consciousness, or super-consciousness. It is a state of complete stillness and bliss. In Yoga Nidra practice, one remains in turiya while the body and mind are in a deep state of relaxation. This allows the practitioner to access higher states of consciousness and experience inner peace and joy.
How is Yoga Nidra Different from Meditation?
In a typical meditation session, the mind remains awake and allows thoughts, feelings, images, and sensations to gently pass through the consciousness. Yoga Nidra, on the other hand, is a state of Yogic sleep in which the mind leaves the initial stages of meditation, goes beyond the dreaming state, and experiences deep sleep while still being awake. Yoga Nidra practice is different from meditation in a few ways. First, during Yoga Nidra, you remain aware of your surroundings and your body. You are also aware of your breath, but you don’t focus on it. Second, in meditation, you focus on one thing, whether it be your breath or a mantra, but in Yoga Nidra you let your mind wander. However, this doesn’t mean that you think about random things, but rather that you focus on the present moment without attachment.
What Is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra is a form of guided meditation that helps to relax the body and mind. The practice can be helpful in reducing stress, anxiety, and insomnia. It can also help to improve focus and concentration. The goal is to reach a state of complete relaxation, both physically and mentally. Many people find Yoga Nidra to be helpful in reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and promoting overall well-being.
What to Expect
Yoga Nidra practice creates an atmosphere of deep relaxation that provides positive results. There is no strain in lying down in bed or on the floor. Ultimately, the objective is to reach a state of complete relaxation, where the mind is free of distractions and the body is completely at ease. Practicing Yoga Nidra regularly can help to reduce stress, improve sleep, and increase feelings of well-being.
The Path of Yoga Nidra
A universal concept with an ancient history, Yoga Nidra practice is simply the “emptying” of the mind in order to open to greater consciousness. Although there are many roads in Yoga and many kinds of travel, there is only one destination – the deep sleep meditation that paves the way for states of bliss. Anyone can begin a Yoga Nidra practice, regardless of their level of experience with meditation. As a result, it is an easy way to relax the body and mind, while releasing any pent-up stress or tension.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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